Drug testing unemployment claimants

Thanks to Cognitive Dissidence, a report by Sen. Kathleen Vinehout about drug testing unemployment claimants has been posted at the Cog Dissidence blog.

The report was generated after a farmer asked the senator if he the unemployed were going to be tested for drugs, was he next for drug tests when he applied for crop insurance benefits. As Senator Vinehout explained, drug testing in general does not make much sense. Courts have held that such generalized testing is unconstitutional.

For example, in 2013 the District Court permanently stopped enforcement of Florida’s law. The court found the law violated the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibiting unreasonable searches.

According to the New York Times, the 2011 Florida law showed few results while it was enforced: only 2.6% of the 4,086 people tested positive for drugs (most often marijuana). The Times reported, “State records showed the requirement cost more money to carry out than it saved.” The Tampa Bay Times reported, in 2012, the program suffered a net loss of $45,780. That’s not counting thousands of hours of staff time to implement and litigation costs to defend the program.

The Florida decision was based on a 2003 Michigan Court of Appeals case. The Court said forcing every Michigan recipient of public benefits to be drug tested without reason to believe the person abused drugs was unconstitutional.

Moreover, the testing costs more than any fraud it catches, since drug use is apparently lower among those receiving unemployment benefits than the population as a whole.

According to the Georgetown Law Journal, drug use in the general public is 8.7% compared to the less than 3% found in Florida’s testing of public benefit recipients. ThinkProgress, a current affairs website, reported Tennessee started drug testing in 2014 and found just one user after testing 800 people.

One thought on “Drug testing unemployment claimants

  1. Pingback: Costs of Drug Testing | Wisconsin Unemployment

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